Even a week later, the Central Christian College men still felt the sting of last Saturday’s overtime loss to longtime basketball rival College of the Ozarks, a game the Tigers had led by two points with a second left to play in regulation.
It carried over to their two earlier games this week as they didn’t play to their usual standards, but on Saturday the Tigers had a chance to erase the pain.
And they inflicted some serious pain.
In their final game of the regular season, the Tigers obliterated the Bobcats 81-58 on an emotional Senior Day at Alexander Arena as seniors Michael Gholston, Daniel Nwosuh, Sam Clayborn and Ernest Burton played here for the final time.
“Tonight really was about our seniors and it was bittersweet,” CCC coach Tony Romero said. “A lot of emotions go into Senior Night and I am so happy for our four seniors being able to go out in a way they earned. This group has been so special to me over the last several years, they have made a lasting impact on my life and our program that won't be overlooked anytime soon."
As for the game itself, there was no way the Tigers were going to lose as they executed to perfection.
“What a night," Romero said. "We played with so much passion and I am so proud of our guys. We really got after it defensively from the tip. They are a very tough team to defend, but we pressured the ball well and were able to create some turnovers. Our pace on offense was much better as well. Our guys were really motivated to avenge our loss we took at their place last week and to send our seniors out on a positive note."
Central led just 61-51 with 7 minutes to go, but finished the game on a 20-7 run for the best win the school has had in a long time.
Burton led the Tigers with 18, Clayborn scored 14, Gholston 13, and Jubril Osagie and Steve Kuminga added 11 apiece off the bench. The win moved Central to 22-7 and its plays Fisher College at 7 p.m. Friday in the AII Tournament in Point Lookout, Mo. The Tigers are the No. 3 seed in the tourney.
Central (81) — Burton 18, Clayborn 14, Gholston 13, Osagie 11, Kuminga 11, Nwosuh 7, Lenard 3, King 2, Warren 2.
Ozarks (58) — Davidson 2, Starbird 11, Paschke 23, Hyler 6, Carmichael 6, Smith 6, Daniels 1, Burland 3.
• OZARKS WOMEN 89, CENTRAL 33 — No. 9-ranked Ozarks again made life miserable for the Tigers.
Kelsey Grimaldo was the Tigers’ lone senior as she was honored for Senior Day. CCC had only six players available due to injuries.
Alexa Gonzales scored 9 points to lead CCC, which plays an exhibition game Monday at Panhandle State. The Tigers are 9-16.
Central (33) — Gonzales 9, Banks 8, Grimaldo 8, Floyd 6, Glessner 2.
Ozarks (89) — McMenamy 9, Simmerman 18, Cleeton 7, Johnson 15, Wisdom 4, Brethower 5, Forrest 5, Wells 5, Smith 5, Roberts 8, Underdown 3, Estes 5.